I wanted to make some jam that wasn’t sickeningly sweet and highlighted the fruit flavor better. I tried to modify a no-pectin strawberry jam recipe with less sugar, but came out disappointed. The flavor was good (and for no-pectin jam, the recipe I used was here, and it worked great to separate the juice from the berries to prevent scorching and add back some fresh flavor.) But you really need more sugar. I cooked and cooked and cooked that jam, was careful to watch my temperatures, did test plates to check the gel in the freezer, and only after a significant amount of cook time did I get it to thicken enough to be tolerable (read: it’s still runnier than I would have liked- and won’t work well for PB&J to travel, but it’s still yummy jam!) That long cook time also significantly decreased my yield- I expected I’d get 12 pints and I ended up with 7. Needless to say, don’t skimp on the sugar if you make this no-pectin version!)
I ran across Pomona’s universal pectin and decided I’d order some and give it a try. There’s nothing like hours over a vat of strawberry jam to kick the DIY cheaper out of you…
My mom has been picking her blueberries and red raspberries and always gives me a bunch (Thanks mom!). I’d gotten some strawberries and threw them in the freezer so I’d be ready when I got my pectin, so triple berry jam seemed a great place to start. I picked a few wild black raspberries, red raspberries, and a handful of the first to ripen blackberries, so really it’s more of a 5 berry jam, but that’s beside the point.
I read the directions carefully- although it seems hard to mess up, I didn’t want to end up ruining my jam (although it sounds as if it’s easy to fix if it’s too stiff or too runny).
It says you can double or triple your recipe- something you don’t dare do with normal pectin. So I did.
I did a double batch first. I mixed up the calcium water and set it aside. 8 cups of mixed mashed berries, 4t calcium water, and 1/4 c lemon juice (only part of my berries needed lemon juice added) went into the pot and I heated it to boiling. I added 1/2 c sugar, too, to help get the juices flowing from the strawberries.
Then the sugar and pectin is added. (You can also use honey or other sweeteners- The pectin is activated by the calcium water, not the sugar). I mixed 4 teaspoons pectin into 2 cups of sugar, then added it to the pot and stirred. So my total sugar added for 8 cups of berries was only 2 1/2 cups. Normal pectin would have required 8 or more cups! The recipe guide on the little paper suggested 4 cups, but your sweetener choice and quantity (if any) is completely up to you!
I brought it back to a boil, then ladled it into my jars and processed it in a hot water bath. My yield from the double batch was 4 1/2 pints.
SInce that went so quickly and easily, I whipped up another batch, tripled this time. Same process as above. I added a touch more lemon juice for flavor and a bit more sugar just to see if there was much difference. This yielded 6 1/2 pints. So I’ve got 10 pints of jam for the shelf and 1 in the fridge (I jus mixed my 2 half pints together).
Easy, delicious, and great real berry flavor! Not to mention I saved money by using only a fraction of the sugar I would have on jam with normal pectin…
And for a price break-down: If you can’t get it locally, you can buy pomona’s online here (shipping costs included). I about fell out of my chair seeing the price was $6 a box, but that box makes several batches of jam, so I think the price evens out fairly well. It also drops in price if you buy in bulk quantities, and it supposedly will not go bad over time- so you don’t have to worry about if your pectin is too old to set your jam anymore. Add to that the savings from not having to add as much sugar, and I think I’m making in cheaper now than before, not to mention being healthier and tastier!
Since making the triple berry, I’ve moved on to plain raspberry, blueberry, blueberry raspberry, and strawberry. Each batch has been completely successful with perfect texture, no picky treatment required, and all have been triple or quadruple batches.
33 pint jars of jam on the shelf so far this year, plus we’ve enjoyed some in the fridge. So far, I think it’s well worth trying! It seems to be a very flexible pectin (not texture, but use).
*I have no connection to pomona’s and I’m not being paid or reimbursed in any way to write about it. I just tried and liked the product and thought I’d share.